Mark Robinson: He stood up and spoke his mind, says others should, too (‘1on1 with Jon Evans’ podcast)
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Mark Robinson’s fiery four-minute speech in front of the Greensboro City Council on April 3, 2018, launched his swift climb into political relevance in North Carolina. Video of the comments went viral, where Robinson sharply criticized council members for wanting to restrict his right to buy a firearm, and in less than three years, the 54-year-old went from factory worker to the first person of color to be elected as the state’s Lieutenant Governor.
Robinson’s political stature has changed, but the way he speaks his mind has not. He is outspoken in his conservative beliefs and principles. In his new book, We Are The Majority!, Robinson writes about his life experiences, and how they helped form the values that he fiercely champions. Values that Robinson’s supporters admire, and his critics dislike.
“I think one of the things that I’m most concerned about is making sure that you tell your own story,” said the Greensboro native. “And we wanted to make sure that we told our own story. We didn’t want anyone else to tell our story for us. We didn’t want people to speculate about who we were, where we came from. We wanted to put it down in our own words, so to speak, and let people know exactly who we are, where we came from, and what we believe.”
Robinson grew up in poverty, living in what he describes as a “rat-infested home” in Greensboro, watching his alcoholic father often beat his mother. Robinson was 12 when his father died, and with his mother going to work to support the family, it often meant Mark and his ten siblings spent time together at home.
“One of the reasons why I feel like we came through the trauma that we came through on the other side, and are healthy, well-adjusted adults, is because we had each other,” Robinson says about his brothers and sisters. “This was never something that we hid, never something that we didn’t talk about. In fact, I believe our therapy came from us sitting around as children and as young adults, and as older adults now, talking to each other and talking about those things and working through them and seeking to understand them. I think that close family bond we’ve had, that ability to be able to talk about those things that we witnessed, helped us hit to heal from those things.”
Robinson details many experiences in the book, including the poor financial decisions that led to losing the family’s home to foreclosure in the mid-90s, and the decision to make the gun rights speech in 2018 that changed his life. Robinson’s popularity in conservative political circles began to grow after video of his speech aired on local newscasts and on social media. Calls from national media outlets followed. The momentum continued to swell until, in July of 2019, Robinson announced plans to enter politics, filing to run in the race for Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina.
“I was sitting at the kitchen table, and my wife (Yolanda) was at the stove, and I told her ‘I think I’m going to run for office’,” Robinson said, remembering back to the moment when decided to give politics a try. “That’s when we started to debate about what office. I mentioned mayor, and I mentioned city council. Then my wife mentioned lieutenant governor. I thought ‘That’s the craziest idea I’ve ever heard!’. But we started on that process and from the very beginning, everything just felt right.”
Robinson defeated Yvonne Holley in the 2020 General Election by a 51% - 48% margin, becoming the first Black Lieutenant Governor in the state’s history. During the campaign, and since taking office, Robinson has continued to be outspoken about his personal opinions, often clashing with opponents on issues such as abortion and homosexuality, resulting in calls for him to step down from office.
“I know there are a lot of people who disagree with me vehemently and quite frankly, probably do not like me,” he said. “I believe that those individuals have the right to say whatever they want to say about me, as long as it’s not threatening or violent. And I don’t take those things personal. What I do sometimes take personal, however, is when I’m mischaracterized by professionals, whether they be in the political realm, or whether they be in the press. I don’t like the outright untruths that sometimes can try to assassinate your character.”
Following the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned the constitutional right to abortion, I asked Robinson what action he would want North Carolina’s General Assembly to take in 2023 regarding the state’s current abortion law. Robinson, who has spoken out publicly against abortion, and says he was wrong in paying to have an abortion done to his unborn child in 1989, says it’s incorrect to assume that because he is conservative, he wants state law to make all abortions illegal, with no exceptions.
“That is my personal opinion, but my personal opinion is not the only opinion in the state,” Robinson says. “Before we move forward on any legislation on abortion, we have got to sit down and have a long, healthy conversation. When I say conversation. I don’t mean with people who we agree with. We’ve got to sit down and talk to the people who disagree with us, and we’ve got to listen to all the ideas that they have. We’ve got to really digest that before we move forward.”
Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson and I talked more about this emotional issue and others he has addressed publicly since taking office. I also asked him about other topics mentioned in the book, including a potential run for governor in 2024. You can hear his answers by clicking any of the links below to listen to the full interview.
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